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Drying herbs 3

This post and the herbs above, have been hanging around my computer and my pantry, awaiting blog launch for quite some time now. All I can say is life happens, blog posts happen later. Although I’m no expert when it comes to herbs and spices, I have a lovely cook’s reference manual and a blogger friend, who happens to be a wonderful chef, to help me out. I love fresh herbs and the unique scents, tastes and colors they impart. Fresh is best, but there’s nothing wrong with dried herbs, especially if you have a bountiful harvest and can’t use them all. Plus, it’s fun to dry them yourself. 

Herbs and spices have been used for medicinal purposes throughout history. I often mention specific health-promoting properties when describing an herb or spice in a recipe. Aside from their appetizing flavors and aromas, many are filled with various vitamins and minerals.

And wasn’t it Cleopatra who used herbs to seduce men? Or was it incense she used? Milk baths? Probably all of the above. Or, maybe it was this lounging-around-topless look. Whatever it was, she went down in history as being quite the shrewd temptress. 

Cleopatra

I got side-tracked, which is quite common. Back to drying herbs.

drying rosemary, marjoram and dill
what you do 

1. Snip herbs, leaving them with long stems. Tie the herbs together and hang them in a dry, dark and well-ventilated area. Hanging them from cabinets in the kitchen is a nice look, but you do want to keep them dry and clean. I moved these from my pantry to a well-lit area to take the photo. You can also put a paper lunch sack around them (poke a few air holes in the sack). That way they’re in the dark and protected from dust. 

2. Leave for 2 to 4 weeks, checking occasionally to see if they are adequately dry. Some take longer than others. If they crumble and fall apart when you rub them between your fingers, they’re ready to store.

3. Store them in clean glass jars. I like to keep them intact in relatively long pieces until I want to use them, then I take a piece out and remove the dried leaves. Label, date them and store them away from heat and light. They last six months to a year. 

img_2639

Go forth and dry your herbs. Doing it Cleopatra style is an option. 
Melissa

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15 Responses to “drying herbs”

  1. Cid says:

    Melissa,

    I just wanted to say how much I loved this post…. had all the qualities of herbaceousness with a hint of crazy, a winning combination in my book :)

    Cid

  2. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Melissa. Melissa said: Just did a post on drying herbs. http://bit.ly/ZfoSS [...]

  3. OMG, this is so insanely helpful! I wish I had seen this last week before that fresh thyme went bad.

  4. Betsy says:

    Do you think this would work the same for lavendar? I have a recipe that calls for dried lavendar and need to get out to the garden and snip some before they freeze…brrr Chicago!

  5. Melissa says:

    Cid,

    Thank you and great word, “herbaceousness.” Sensuously rich and savory, but a touch off-beat. Quirky women think alike.

    Are you closer to lift off with the new kitchen? I’m very curious.

    :-)

  6. Melissa says:

    Alisa,

    Sorry about that, I was a bit late getting this post launched. Hope you at least enjoyed your thyme while it lasted!

  7. Melissa says:

    Betsy,

    Yes, lavender is perfect for drying. It’s the right shape and texture. The thick, leafy herbs like basil that don’t work as well with this method. Those work better in the dehydrator, but just hang your lavender as I suggested here.

    Chicago? Yes — BRRRR! Stay warm!

  8. greedydave says:

    Melissa,

    I’m a little clueless when it comes to dried herbs. We really do get it rammed into us that ‘fresh is best’ hence most of my herbs go the way of Alisa’s thyme. It’s really something I need to educate myself in so I look forward to seeing their use in your future posts. Maybe I too will have besoms of dried herbs hanging from my ceiling!

    GDave

  9. Melissa says:

    GDave,

    This is perfect. Women love sensitive, yet manly guys. If you invite a woman over to your flat and she sees that you make beer AND dry your own herbs, she’ll be head over heels in no time. Plus, you can cook! What a winning combo! Not to mention that razor sharp wit of yours.

    Go, GDave, go!
    Right, Cid?!
    :-)

  10. Cid says:

    GDave,

    Melissa is quite right…. all this talk of Brad Pitt looks and pots of money count for nothing unless a man can make his own beer (and rosehip syrup of course!) dry herbs, cook and keep a Blog… not to mention wit. The marketing of fabulous men to deserving and equally fabulous women is an art but I daresay Melissa and I would make excellent match makers while at the same time dishing out bowls of hot, steamy soup in our ‘kitchen’ :)

    Cid

  11. Cid says:

    Melissa,

    Kitchen news…. it’s like wading through treacle now we’re this close. The fridge was switched on last night and is making icecubes which it dispenses into a tray automatically. This feature will come in handy for our Pimms :) As for the rest, well the final fit will take time… I’m beginning to wonder whether a free standing kitchen would have been a better choice! Chairs and cabinet handles have just arrived so I’d better dash off and take an interest. Worktop due Friday (so that probably means next week then!) after that in goes the oven etc….yippee.

    Like all your readers, I love bunches of dried herbs but thank goodness for Bay which stays evergreen and seems to grow so quickly. Some of my herbs in pots are too old and need to be thrown out to make room for fresh… Mark (or Mr Fabulous cabinet maker) is adding a herb rack to the door of my new pantry cupboard. There will be so much to explore I won’t know where to start :)

    Cid

  12. Miles says:

    Melissa,
    Many thanks! Sorry for the late reply, I’ve been away at one of our hotels and have only just returned to home soil. Glad to see you’re drying herbs, some dried herbs work brilliantly don’t they? I love Moroccan herb blends such as sabiz ghormeh which I could happily use in almost anything.

    Miles (thinking he might be repeating himself!)

  13. Melissa says:

    Cid,

    Although I can’t remember what Pimm’s is, but I do recall you all said it was wonderful, so I’m in. :-)

    Cabinet handles — what’s the look you’re creating? Any themes going on in these choices?

    I can’t wait to see Mr. Fabulous Cabinet Maker’s herb rack. My imagination is truly going wild wondering about this old English house with a remodeled gourmet kitchen with an Asian flair. And of course, we can’t leave out the eccentric cook with the non-skid slippers.

    Oh, and Daniel Craig standing guard.

    :-)

  14. Melissa says:

    Miles,

    No worries. I can barely keep up with my own comments, let alone my reader’s.

    Okay, I’ve never heard of sabiz ghormeh, but I will look it up as soon as I push “submit comment.”

    Thanks, as always, you’re a wealth of information!

  15. I’ve only dried lemon balm for making pretty little sachet hangers. Years ago. I don’t like perfumey things, so I used lemon balm and added a tiny bit of potpourri to each. It was fun at the time (although I didn’t follow Cleopatra’s lead). Drying herbs is neat and easy. We still grow lemon balm (our bees really like it), but I haven’t used it of late. Maybe I should pluck some, dry it, and add it to some tea this winter. :-)

    Shirley

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Disclaimer: All material on this website is provided for informational and educational use only and should not be used for diagnostic purposes. Consult with your physician regarding any health or medical concerns you may have.
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